There are no unicorns at the end of Brexit’s rainbow

Since the EU referendum and, indeed, during the campaign, itself, Britain has been operating in a fog. Brexit has cast itself as a dangerously befuddled character, hiding behind enormous bravado. All the wishful declarations are now bumping into conundrums of reality. Brexit gets angrier by the day, at any challenges to its hubris; Remainers become ever more bemused, concerned and vilified.

Everything that could and should have been discussed and understood, before the referendum, is now being tossed around in disconnected parcels. If the expectations, possibilities and consequences had been even vaguely prepared for in a Brexit plan, before the referendum campaign began and if the Media had not been too partial, lazy or acquiescent to properly scrutinise, the chances are that Leave wouldn’t have stood a chance or that there simply would not have been a referendum, at all.

Political Remain was never going to do its cause justice, though, was it? Its politicians preferred to allow Leave to scapegoat the EU rather than have to admit that it was years of inadequate housing, undermined public services, crappy employment that does not even make life affordable, generous policies that help those who least need it, excessive corporate deference, etc, etc. They preferred that the discontents and “left behinds” should misplace blame and jeopardise the national interest rather than trash their own appalling records.

Not a single thing that Brexit complains about can be adequately solved, if at all, by leaving the very club that already affords us as great a global advantage and clout as we could possibly have. Bar teaming up with that proto-despot, over the pond, perhaps. What looks likely or possible about leaving is why an initially eurosceptic me voted to stay. The world is a confused, frustrated, paranoid, precarious place, right now and Brexit is pompously treating it like a game of Jenga. There is no deal outside of the EU that can be a real, sustainable and ethical improvement on what we already have. The best place to safeguard and improve our lot is from the established base that Brexit so disdains.

Yes, the European Union is flawed. Derr. British democracy is pretty flawed, too. Both are best reformed from inside. Yes, the Eurozone is an asymmetrical basket case but it is, nonetheless, an established global currency and unlikely to just disappear. And we are not in the Eurozone, nor do we have any intention of being in it, though, if it does collapse, we are no more protected from all the repercussions than anyone else outside of it. Some Brexiters like to claim that leaving is saving Britain and they have often boasted about being an encouraging example for other EU member states. The possibility that the Eurozone might collapse and that so much of Leave is, even now, ideologically keen to contribute to that earthquake, is really nothing to be proud of. Playing god is not wise. And if the entire European Union were to implode, the consequences will cause a global tsunami. Our hissyfit referendum result would be moot and our place in history possibly reduced to being the self-proclaimed catalyst of a monumental fallout.

Those that believe they have so little to lose that they’d waste democracy on misdirected protest or take a chance on any unqualified change: who will they blame; to whom will they complain when the monster they have unleashed leads to less control over what little they did still have? If they are lucky.

And fancy insisting that you knew what you were voting for. And then having the nerve to claim that that was what every other leaver was voting for. Watch any political interview or discussion and it is clear that, apart from the childish utopianists and nihilists, they did not know and still do not. Apart from chaos and confusion, no one really knows. Least of all those in charge of implementing “the people’s will”. To insist otherwise seems pretty foolish or cynical. What else but foolishness or alright-jack cynicism votes for something it either does not fully understand and probably can’t control or to whom the outcome makes little difference?

Brexit is not simple or straightforward, no matter how hard or often its cavalier protagonists imply otherwise. There are almost impossible numbers of mind-bogglingly complex administrative, legal and trade elements that simply cannot be addressed, one at a time, by bureaucrats, learning on the job. Britain is firmly on the self-inflicted back foot just as a whole-picture understanding is urgently required. A picture that the EU negotiators understand better than us.

We need proper, serious Parliamentary, Public and Media scrutiny of expectations, options and their consequences. Then, largely because our muddled official opposition cannot be relied upon, we will need a second plebiscite to confirm consent or to withdraw it. Only then should Article 50 be invoked. Article 50 must be the first end point (the final starting point?) because, currently, there is absolutely nothing, beyond suggestion, to guarantee its reversibility. Once Article 50 is triggered we have two years, guaranteed maximum time. How stupid it would be to start the clock before we need to.

And no, we shouldn’t comfort ourselves that we could just rejoin the EU when we discover there are no unicorns at the end of Brexit’s rainbow. Well, we could rejoin but imagine how bad the mess would have to be for taking up the Euro and participating in Schengen to look like the best option.

And no, we can’t just console ourselves with the World Trade Organisation. That is pretty much the whole world and a whole other convoluted can of worms. Besides, the tone of our future, outside of the EU, is contingent on the very observable manner and settlement of our divorce.

If, via a fresh vote, the public still favours a Brexit, then, so be it. Yes, of course I am leaning on my faith in people’s desire to be better informed and their enthusiasm for not sabotaging themselves – sufficient, at least, to reflect with more than emotions and the nebulous rhetoric of populists who play with them.

Brexit froths, daily, with ever-increasing paranoid indignation, at every bit of bad news, at every reasonable question or observation and at the slightest possibility of a fresh plebiscite. But then, froth is proving to be its strongest currency. One might think they’d lost confidence in that overwhelmingly teeny majority.

The whole world wrought

What are we?
Who are we?
What have we become?
What have we done
But that we strut and curse
With Human ignorance
And hubris?

We sew pockets of hell on Earth
And fret when it’s too late
And still yet tell ourselves
That any fiction is infinitely better
Than to fess up; than to face our
Reaping

Wide,
The World weeps bloody tears
And suffocates under fractious clouds
That wreck and reek to retching

Sick, the planet heaves,
Clamouring for more glamour
And belief’s cold sweats

Adrenaline free-falling
Out of disconnect

Selective fear and fury
Horror
Paranoia
Stalks the Psyche
Trammels
Into frozen thought and feeling

The whole world is reeling
Dancing to discordant tunes

Tectonic Titans crunching
Crushing
Scraping scraps with blades

All is percussion
Gluttonous
And crashing

World made glass and straw
And poisoned shores
In hearts and thoughts
Polluting souls

The whole world wrought
To overwrought and overwhelm
And all for nought.

 

[From June, 2014]

Once upon a pattern clear

Once upon a pattern clear
A tessellation did appear
All History looming now and near
In shapes exacting airy fear

Here, every wretched thought and whim
All hate and spite invested in
And chaos wished and bigots’ sins
Came through the ethers, answering

And welcomed in, did bond in might
To relish in an appetite
For magnifying fight and flight
Attracted by their own limelight

And like for like to like all grew
As panic bade is wont to do
In particles, the Trickster moved
Into the Mind and counted coup

So too, the outer rim awoke
Prepared to share the cosmic joke
Respecting what the people spoke:
As humans will, so be it mote

Promoted of his network tools
The Trickster fixed another spool
Delighted with his wicked jewels
And the promiscuity of fools…

Don’t

Don’t mess; don’t second-guess the People: they have spoken
Don’t test their faith that says your liberal place has had its time
Do not forget your status now, is an arbitrary token
So be a good wee patriot and, quietly, get into line.

Don’t judge them by their words but by their actions
Don’t judge them by their deeds but their intent
Don’t judge them by their hungry, blind and constant angry factions
Do not mistake the rhetoric for what they really meant

Don’t caution, fret or organise to hinder their turn-back designs
Don’t let collective ignorance inhibit your respect
Do not get lost in challenging the means they justify as fine
Don’t be a party pooper; get that Kool-Aid down your neck.

 

Please, do not do this. Resist, resist. Resist.

thinks it has me pegged

The political commentariat thinks that those who despair of Brexit and President-elect Trump are the “liberal elite” and that those who have voted for either are the “left behind”. Deep political, philosophical, cultural and, I’d say, spiritual angst, are being reduced, wholeheartedly, to a dangerous binary that exploits the overlaps and suppresses the nuance.

I’m fifty years old. I was born in the South-East of England. I come from a loving, blue-collar to fairly ambitious middle-class family. We moved around the country a fair bit, when I was a child, for opportunity’s sake and I had some adventures, travelling abroad when I was a young, independent adult. I now live in Cornwall, having arrived here through marriage, twenty-plus years ago and then not leaving, when it ended.

I’ve been to eight different schools: two of them in Scotland and two of them small, private ones, in England – an infant/junior and a secondary. I know a bit about being “the new girl”. Albeit a bit disjointed, I still had a pretty good education. I went on to college, all expectations on me to go to University but I chose a badly fitting course and left to join the London commute when a job with professional opportunities was offered.

I’ve done a myriad of jobs, from menial to skilled, waged and salaried, both front of house and behind the scenes. I’ve been paid and voluntary. I’ve been trained, respected, cheated, head-hunted (not for anything particularly exceptional), bullied, well-rewarded and undermined along the way.

I’m a divorced, single mother of grown-up children, for whom I was, pretty much, the only unconditional, available and accessible constant, during their childhoods.

Since a stupid accident, these last few years, I have daily issues with pain and mobility and all the fatigue, frustration and depression they bring. I’ve had to battle my way through the constant stress of uncertainty and hostility of DWP assessments.

Just before I started this blog, I achieved a first class honours degree from the Open University.

It’s rare for me to reveal personal information, so why am I telling you this? Why the sudden, potted overview? Because each side of the binary that thinks it has me pegged, speaks of me but does not speak for me and is barely even speaking to me.

For one: I am not the “liberal elite”. ‘Liberal’ is not quite the same as just do anything you want and ‘elite’ is as different from elitism as ‘popular’ is from populism. I am liberal because I value the freedom of will and expression of everyone and I only wish I were an elite because it would mean I am actually, truly excellent at something.

And two: if there is a tick-box form to qualify for the Brexit/Trump “left-behind” – a clear demographic of the “forgotten” – I can probably tick a lot of their boxes. I’m a straight, white, middle-aged (I hope!), financially poor, vulnerable, female, single parent, with a good degree, living under years of governmental incompetence and malfeasance, in an area of the country quite lacking in ethnic and cultural diversity and with serious issues of neglect, poverty and deprivation, that voted for Brexit, despite years of EU funding.

But I do not like UKIP. I don’t like the Conservative Party (though I like some individual MPs). I’m monumentally disappointed with Labour, yet I’m not “a Blairite” and I don’t support Jeremy Corbyn (though I did try, for a little while). I think he fronts the kind of populist Left that leads, ultimately, to the same effects as the far right: oppressive bureaucracy, authoritarianism, virtue-signalling, censorship and fear.

I don’t think Capitalism is an evil, of itself (what we currently have is not even proper capitalism, anyway) but I don’t think it is the panacea for a sustainable and ethical socio-economic system, either. I’m not against making healthy profit. Just against profiteering. I have no problem with other people having more than me. Just not at my expense; by exploitation.

I think globalisation makes the World connected and accessible. I think that where it has undermined my quality of life, it is because of the policies of governments and international entities. The likes of Amazon, Sports Direct and Uber can only exploit me because my government lets them. Wealth and influence take unfair advantage because they can.

I believe in and love Humanity, Liberty, Law and Justice. I believe in universal Human Rights and equality of respect and dignity, regardless of nationality, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, politics or religion – particularly and at least under Law and from those who administer policy and public service.

I respect and revere Science and the Arts. I believe in God and the sacredness and divinity of all things but I’m not religious and I support pluralist, secular governance. I believe in the State because I believe, perhaps poetically that, in a democracy, the People are the State.

I’ve become more cynical than I really want or ever expected to be but I don’t have a tin-foil hat.

I love my country, not blindly but warts and all. I bear her shame as I enjoy her pride. I am not a traitor to my country or an enemy of the western world because I cannot and will not compromise my principles to appease misguided hysteria and foolish vitriol, sweeping up with a jingoistic broom. Being concerned, even fearful about my country’s current trajectory and those of my neighbours, is not unpatriotic.

I am not “the liberal elite” that half of the political commentariat likes to imagine I must be. I am more like one of the “left behind” that the other half likes to patronise, fret over and console themselves with.

But I didn’t vote for Brexit and I would never have voted for Donald Trump and I despair of the crony socio-economic status quo as much as anybody. So, who, in Power, speaks for me? Where do I fit, in my country? Is this my country?